The student news site of Ada High School

Injustice reins in Ada, Oklahoma

December 9, 2019

Imagine this, you’re at a party and having the time of your life and then all the sudden you’re called into the police station with a friend. You’re being accused of murder and a handful of other things. That’s insane right? Days of unlawful questioning tactics, you’re charged with said allegations follow suit.  This would never happen in our beloved town right? Surely someone would have caught this mess up before 30 years of being wrongly incarcerated for the murder of Denise Haraway, nope. This is the case for Tommy Ward and Karl Fotenot more recently.

These men gave a ‘confession’ and none of the aspects added up with the remains that were found well after they’d been given life in prison. Ward said that he had stabbed her, giving clear details about where the lesions were located on her body. Ward said that they dumped her body at an abandoned warehouse west of Ada and buried her under the floorboards, then set the place ablaze. The men even described the clothing she was allegedly wearing, a light-colored, brown button down top with blue flowers and ruffled sleeves. You’ll see that every detail pointed away from Ward and Fontenot.

Upon finding Haraway’s body, two years later, none of this evidence was corroborated. Her body was recovered in Gerty which is 30 miles away from Ada in Hughes County. Her body was found (just bones at this point) with a single gun shot wound as the cause of death. There was no marks on the bones consistent with being stabbed nor were the bones charred as if they’d been set on fire. Bits of clothes and jewelry were found at the scene but was not documented nor taken for evidence but they did not match the alleged outfit in the confession.

Later evidence showed fractures in her pelvic bones, consistent with giving birth but the police never looked nor recovered a fetal bones. Nobody knew of a child, she was a senior in college with no child. This leads to an askew timeline, if she was allegedly murdered on that same night she was kidnapped, then how did she suddenly have a mysterious child.

This isn’t the only inconsistency. The Pontotoc County District Attorney’s office has proved their incompetence. The sitting District Attorney (DA) withheld information from defense attorneys which obviously impacted the extent that the defense could defend the accused. They did not do their job in giving the proper information. There was boxes that was withheld from legal council. It’s kind of like the recording on a tape in Ron’s case that was witheld because they lied about it’s contents. The office stated it was a polygraph which is inadmissible in court but in reality it was a two hour interview. This tape contains a repetitive phrase from Ron “I’m innocent you know, I had nothing to do with this.” Which Ada police tried to weasel a different answer out of Ron but it was the same every time. There are possibly things like this in Fontenot’s case as well –lost tapes, interviews, witness accounts.

The police arrested the first name that came up and called in a night. Their investigations and methods have many things wrong with them. Officers kept the accused up for days, releasing information that they shouldn’t have to the sleep deprived young men. Then allowed them to go home, and naturally they had a dream about a murder and later told police about it. They took this as a confession. Throughout the video the officer repeatedly gives leading questions to Ward instead of asking the regularly conducted questions of an interview. Even the line of questioning dripped with bias, and an unspoken conviction. Bill Peterson, the standing DA, stated that both men (Ward and Fontenot) provided the same description of her blouse but in the tapes the details are completely different.

In many of the cases they had a jailhouse snitch, Terri Holland for BOTH cases that provided false testimony from within the jail. When the assistant DA, Chris Ross, was approached with this ‘coincidence’ and questioned about the reliability of these jailhouse snitches. He responded with, “Do you mean Terri?” followed with “Well, we like to say she has a c-spot.. you know a c-spot for confessions..she had taken the most confessions on the most spectacular murders in Ada, in recent history.” Then Ross says its her c-spot working. Professional, right?

This case is a direct deviation from regularly conducted business with police practices. There was eyewitness miss identification, snitch evidence, incompetent attorney’s, hidden evidence, junk science, false coerced confessions, and a DA’s office with the itch to point a blind finger.

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